Very Odd Ramblings About Time

Sep 2, 2010 by Jared Smith

In a few weeks, I will be traveling to Asia. Time starts to play interesting games when you find yourself half way around the world. As my family is waking up, I’ll be going to bed in Singapore, which will be 14 hours ahead of Utah. While in India, I’ll be 11.5 hours ahead of home. As I watch the sun rise in the East over the Indian Ocean, folks at home will be watching the same sun set the night before.

Even more mind-boggling is the International Date Line. I will leave Utah on a Monday afternoon and will fly for 12 hours across the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo. But when I land, it will be Tuesday evening – well over a day after I left. But on the way home, I leave Tokyo at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday and land in Salt Lake City at 11:30 a.m. that same day – almost 5 hours before I left!!!

I’ve mentioned before that one of my pet peeves is when people say things like “9 a.m. in the morning.” Either “a.m.” or “in the morning” will suffice. But it’s not quite so clear when you’re talking about midnight.

It’s common knowledge that 12 a.m. and midnight are the same point in time, right? Answer the following questions to see if this is true:

1. Let’s say it’s 10 p.m. on Tuesday and you want to meet some friends at midnight on Wednesday. How many hours until you meet them?

2. Let’s say it’s 10 p.m. on Tuesday and you want to meet some friends at 12 a.m. on Wednesday. How many hours until you meet them?

Most people would answer “26 hours” for question 1 and “2 hours” for question 2. If this is the case, then midnight on Wednesday must be exactly 24 hours after 12 a.m. on Wednesday, right? OK, then when is 12 midnight Wednesday? If 12 midnight exists, then 12 and midnight must be the exact same time, not 24 hours apart.

If you think you’re a smarty pants and answered “2 hours” to both questions, then answer this question:

Let’s say it’s 10pm on Tuesday and you want to meet some friends at midnight tonight. How many hours until you meet them?

If your answer is “2 hours”, then you believe that midnight Wednesday (see question 1) is the same point in time as midnight Tuesday???

Confused yet?

The problem is that “midnight” is ambiguous – it is the exact middle point of two days. It is neither one day nor the other. Yet we often refer to midnight as being on a particular day. Sometimes it’s “midnight tonight” (369,000 Google results) and sometimes it’s “midnight this morning” (740,000 Google results). As such, midnight on Tuesday and midnight on Wednesday to two people might mean the same point in time, points 24 hours apart, or even points 48 hours apart (for one it’s the point at the beginning of Tuesday and for the other it’s the point at the end of Wednesday).

Saying “12:00 midnight” doesn’t remove this ambiguity. But what if you say, “12:00 a.m. midnight”? The “a.m.” generally clarifies that this refers to the beginning of that day rather than the end of that day, but a lot of people don’t understand this. This is why you never see trains or planes scheduled to leave at 12:00 a.m. – it’s always 11:59 p.m. or 12:01 a.m. Isn’t it interesting how one minute removes all ambiguity? Technically, 12:00 can be neither “a.m.” (before midday) or “p.m.” (after midday) at all, because it’s smack dab in the middle – neither before nor after midday. 12:00:01, however can be.

About the only way to totally clarify midnight is to use something like “midnight Tuesday/Wednesday” or simply use the 24 hour clock and refer to it as “00:00”, but that’s just weird – not unlike a long blog posting talking about midnight, er, I mean 12 a.m.

A Small Treatise on Yoplait Yogurt Containers

Jul 16, 2010 by Jared Smith

Yoplait Light Yogurt containers suck! This product container was designed by Satan as a punishment for all who, like me, withdraw from the powers of bacon and Zingers to tempt their fates at dieting.

The Lid

The foil seal requires a small handtool, teeth, and/or ultra-tiny fingers to remove. And it always spurts just a bit of yogurt on you when you open it. This was clearly only tested by midget mechanic vampires at sea level.

(NOTE: For your own mental well-being, do not for the love of all that is good and holy perform a Google image search for “midget mechanic vampires”. What has been seen cannot be unseen.)

The lid contains the expiration date. It is also the first item discarded. This makes it particularly difficult to determine until after the fact that the odd-tasting yogurt you found at the back of your grandmother’s refrigerator was in fact 6 years old, rather than just fat free.

The Inside Design

The inside flange under the human-proof foil seal traps approximately 1/3 of the yogurt contents. Attempts to remove this with your tongue result in you looking and feeling like a fat idiot – something yogurt eaters are naturally trying to avoid.

Tongue marks under the yogurt lip

Unless you eat with a Q-tip, this design sucks!

Another 1/3 of the contents is trapped in the deep ridges at the convex bottom of the container.

The advantage to this design is that you expend all 100 calories you’ve consumed trying to extricate the remaining yogurt from its furrowed safety grooves.

The Fake Bottom

Hollow bottom

Ain’t that a rip in the shorts? They call it Yoplait Light because the container is in fact 31% air.

The Container Shape

As are many people that eat yogurt, the container is wider at the bottom than at the top. Several minutes of intensive research involving an oddly-worded Google search resulted in the lyrics to a Sir Mix-a-Lot song, a J-Lo photo album, and several interesting facts about this design.

First, the shape masks the false bottom. If you look into an empty container, it appears much deeper than it is. I’ve concluded that the engineers at Yoplait have found a way to distort both time and space. The thing appears to go on forever as if you were peering into an eternal worm-hole of cultured pasteurized grade A nonfat milk and high fructose corn syrup goodness – in other words, heaven. And when you eat from it, you’d think there is an unending supply, when in fact nearly 2/3 of every spoonful is actually scraped off by the narrow opening at the lid, thus magnifying the deception.

Second, the containers are impossible to stack. Jeffrey Howard of Wilson Elementary School won the Yoplait cup stacking competition last year by getting three of them stacked on end. Amazing!

Third, the container kills skunks.

Apparently health conscious skunks everywhere are getting their heads stuck in the container after futilely attempting, like you, to get all that remaining yogurt out of the bottom. There are several entertaining YouTube videos of this phenomena. I have summarily scattered several more-or-less empty containers about the yard and have the video camera ready.

PETA has protested and boycotted Yoplait and there are several damning posts on environmental forums such as treehugger.com – for which I have declared myself a lifetime Yoplait customer.

There’s even a Facebook group titled “Guys Against Yoplait” or G.A.Y. as they appropriately call it. The 9 male and (inexplicably) 1 female members (ironically all members of the Olfactory Dysfunction Support Group) describe this situation as “an epidemic sweeping our nation” caused by “cup ‘o death”. Their mantra is (exclamation marks maintained for impact) “Skunks are our friends!! We must protect them at all costs!!!”

This article describes how “between 2 and 14 skunks were reported killed” in 1997, which is approximately the number of skunks I kill per year with my truck, though I’ve yet to have a hippie chain himself to it (the hippies I’ve chained to it do not count, naturally). The article explains how General Mills spent “10 months of intensive research” to primarily add a warning label to their containers which reads:
PROTECT WILDLIFE CRUSH
CUP BEFORE DISPOSAL
which if you read just right is kinda funny and nonsensical, though not nearly as much so as spending 10 months to come up with that.

Yoplait Will Kill You

The label on Yoplait yogurt is like Kate Gosselin’s reverse mullet – party in the front, business in the back. There are more warning labels than a barrel of plutonium. It contains warnings for things like Phenylalanine, which the internets says causes brain damage. It contains kosher gelatin, which I have no idea what it does, but I’m pretty sure it’s made of Jewish horses.

And that’s just the beginning, or so claims this post on a conspiracy theory forum, obviously written by some loser that has nothing better to do than write a long blog post about yogurt.

June 2010 Review

Jul 1, 2010 by Jared Smith

It’s been a while since I posted – still getting over the lost shrimp, I guess. So here’s a quick update on what’s been happening lately:

  • We went on a handcart trek. It was fun, exhausting, and uplifting. My 4 X great grandfather died at Martin’s Cove. Sad. It was in the middle of Wyoming – a very long drive. In 150 years, my ancestors will probably honor me by riding on a bus for 7 hours.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that white AND black men in Chicago can own guns and Senator Robert Byrd kicked the bucket on the same day. Coincidence?
  • I just got back from my 7th trip to Oklahoma. They really like all-you-can-eat buffets there.
  • Abbie and I have earned 220 of the 241 stars in Super Mario Galaxy 2. I haz mad Nintendo skillz.
  • I might go to India and Singapore later this year. Cool, except for the 52 hours it takes to get there and back part.
  • If you fly from Japan to Utah, you arrive an hour before you leave.
  • My travel agent forgot to pay for my Oklahoma plane ticket. I learned this at the airport. The lady at the ticket counter wanted $1420 to fly there that night. I replied, “I said Oklahoma, not Okinawa.” She didn’t find it funny. I stayed in West Valley City that night.
  • The La Quinta Inn in West Valley City reeks of marijuana smoke. At first this totally bugged me, but after a while I was cool with it.
  • A bunch of hoodlums made a mess of Toronto while protesting the G20 summit. Good thing us ‘right wing nut jobs’ don’t protest it or we’d have taken over Canada.
  • My sister found a spot between her toes. It was cancer. They cut it all out. I found a spot too. I got to wear sexy paper underwear at the doctor’s office. They cut the spot off. I find out soon if it’s cancer too. Stupid toes!
  • iPhone 4. I have one.
  • Mary spent a week at girls camp. I watched the kids. They really missed their mother even though we ate at McDonalds.
  • My son just said, “I want nunchuk skills.” We’ll work on him not peeing on the bathroom floor first.